February 15, 2012

Tribal elders to teach languages?

Students could soon learn Indian languages

Bill aims to make it easier to teach them

By Joe Hanel
Indian tribal elders would be able to work in public schools as teachers of their native languages, under a bill that advanced Wednesday at the state Capitol.

Senate Bill 57 authorizes schools to hire people fluent in native languages, even though they might not have a teaching license.

“The tribes have such a great opportunity to get the tribal elders involved in the program,” said Ernest House Jr., secretary of the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs and a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.

Although Southwest Colorado has the state’s only two Indian reservations, the bill is modeled on a program in Denver Public Schools. Denver has the state’s highest Indian population, including an especially large group of Lakota people.

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